Throughout the variant strains of Object-Oriented Philosophy and Speculative Realism, one common thread has been the rejection of the thesis that ontology implies a politics. This can be seen, for example, in Badiou where the event is understood as what is other than being-qua-being. Graham is absolutely insistent on the thesis that ontology does not imply a politics, arguing that questions of ontology should be engaged for their own sake. Nick, of The Accursed Share, wrote a very nice post arguing for the separation of ontology and politics. Continuing this theme, Reid, over at Planomenology, has today written a great post discussing the politics he sees emerging from the non-relation of the real and philosophy:
Here I must be clear. I think that as long as we take ‘non-relation’ as simply meaning ‘no relation’ or ‘not related’, we are missing the point. The non-relation of the Real to politics is one in which the Real is wholly absent from any intelligibility for politics, in which it is indecipherable or opaque for politics. Any political thought encounters the Real in the mode of not knowing what the Real wants. Now of course, this points to an implicit element of fantasy (in the strict Lacanian sense) that is structurally necessary for politics, one in which political thinkers impute such a desire to the Real, even though the Real is without will, and in fact, wholly indifferent to politics.
Nonetheless, the Real is still the ultimate determining factor of political reality. How? When I say that it is indifferent, I mean it is indifferent to any given political position, project or goal – it has no will for any political position, even though politics are minimally determined by this ‘Other’s desire’. Every politics that claims to be the true or right politics must also claim that its desire, its will or plan, is also that which ‘the Real wants’, that its ‘good’ is in fact the Good. Politics cannot cope with the indifference of the Real, and so must attempt to ‘narrativize’ its opacity by imputing to it some political truth.
You can read the rest here.
For my part, I am not entirely certain what the issue is here. The argument seems directed at something like Platonic thought where a particular form of politics is held to follow from ontology, or, more properly, that which is otherwise than being and beyond all being, while simultaneously serving as the condition of being (i.e., the Good). Such a view of the relationship between ontology and politics probably also arises from certain theological ontologies, where God dictates and demands certain relations among his creatures.
I both see and share Graham’s point that a particular ontology does not entail a politics where these theological dimension is absent. Thus, a relational ontology won’t deliver us to either a leftist or a rightist politics, because there can be both leftist and rightist forms of relation. Insofar, as for my part, I adopt the principle that anything that makes a difference both is and is real, it strikes me as an inevitable conclusion that politics is both a matter of the real and is a form of being. In other words, I am unclear as to why being or the real must be understood as something completely independent of the human. This is not to say, for me, that all beings are related to the human. No. But, in my ontology, humans and relations between humans and non-humans are counted among those things that are real or belong to being. Such an ontology holds 1) that there is nothing particularly special or privileged about the human-world relation, and 2) that there are both objects and relations among objects completely unrelated to the human. What perplexes me is why a realist ontology is required to make the move of claiming that being as such is completely unrelated to the human. This strikes me as a dual world ontology where one form of being is really real and the rest is simply appearances that are not. If this is the case, then the question becomes not that of how we attain the real, but rather how various politics construct or build their polis, their values, the bodies that populate this polis, and so on.